FULL STEAM AHEAD

Brittney Morrissey, BHP Teacher
Washington, USA

My journey with Big History began a year ago when I attended the Seattle cluster meeting. Not knowing what to expect, I was skeptical of this thing called Big History. What is Big History? How big is big? Is there going to be too much science stuff?

I’m now excited, although a little nervous—this upcoming school year, our entire ninth-grade team is teaching Big History as our world history course! I have a lot of homework to do.

Enter: Teaching Big History!

The Teaching Big History online training course was where I turned to start. It provides an overview of the BHP course content, activities, and resources. This course overview immediately highlights the fact that students will be analyzing science and scientific events through a historical lens. I feel reassured — my history class will not become a science class!

teaching-big-history1

Teaching Big History even includes BHP teacher tips, tricks, and planning guides! As part of my homework, I quickly pored over seasoned Big History teachers’ individual planning guides, noting how and where they alter specific units to meet their needs. I snuck a peek at Bridgette O’Connor’s Semester Course Plan, which helped me plan for a more world-history focused spin of the course. I realized I could pepper in my own extensions and material—like stuff focused on the Renaissance and Reformation—to meet local standards. Yay, flexibility!

Looking ahead, my team is working to plan, plan, and plan next school year. The online training has helped us realize just how many wonderful activities there are. Although these activities help students’ reading, writing, and critical thinking skills, we cannot possibly do them all! We’re currently digging into Unit 1 and evaluating what we’ll keep and what we’ll skip. We’re trying to maintain enough flexibility to allow for the inevitable assemblies, fire drills, holidays, snow days, and other unplanned and unforeseeable events that pop up during the school year.

I am truly excited to dive into Big History with my diverse group of learners. From what I’ve seen so far, Big History allows students to “do” the history—directing investigations, problem solving, and critically analyzing each other’s ideas. I am so excited to guide a classroom without “right” answers and to leave #snopocalypse 2016–2017 behind!

About the author: Brittney Morrissey has been teaching ninth grade world history for four years. The upcoming 2017/2018 school year will be her first year teaching Big History. She will teach Big History to four different classes, reaching about 120 ninth-grade students. She will meet with each class daily for 50 minutes.

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